Ballmer heads for Oz to staunch Telstra Windows defection

Charm offensive? No, we can't see it either...

Microsoft High Command has noticed Australia, and is unleashing Steve Ballmer on it in an effort to stop its biggest customer in the southern hemisphere, Telstra, from going MIA, according to a report in today's Australian IT. It is not immediately clear to us whether the Aussies get Steve because they're still deemed by the High Command as not sufficiently important to rate Bill, or whether it's because the barking, yelping, frighteningly whirling Ballmer is deemed more appropropriate for such an upfront and demonstrative nation.

Whatever, the real Telstra deal's already gone anyway, and the best Microsoft can now do is to the stop the backshop lockout it's already sustained from turning into a whopping loss of 45,000 desktop software licences and a massive PR triumph for whichever other company gets the gig instead. Microsoft should surely be in with a shot at avoiding this, because junking tens of thousands of Windows and Office installations and setting up an alternative (e.g. Linux-StarOffice) remains a non-trivial exercise. But cost of switching/inertia having such an importance to Microsoft as a sales plank is nothing to be proud of.

The situation with Telstra at the moment is that CIO Jeff Smith has declared himself an admirer of Sun's Scott McNealy (and we have already taken him to task for this). In July Telstra made the rather more significant announcement. It appointed Sun as "the lead provider of technology solutions and services for Telstra's new technology environment," which amounts to adopting the Sun Open Net Environment (ONE), and Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition as "the foundation of the next-generation Standard Operating Environment (SOE) for Telstra's next-generation open services platform (OSP) platform in Australia... [to provide] robust and futureproof web services ... speed to market rich new services, and help increase revenue opportunities."

Cut to the chase on this - if Steve talks to Telstra about .NET he's going to be wasting his breath. So he'd probably best confine himself to discussing the retraining costs associated with dumping Microsoft's curiously upgrade-hungry and weirdly expensive client software. But even if he stops this one, the construction of the non-Microsoft client platform for major companies is something that's going to happen one day, and it will perforce be done by a major Microsoft customer. Think of the air miles, Steve... ®

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